Haven't been taking Honey Boo Boo seriously? All you doubters better redneckognize, because the pint-size pageant queen is a pop culture force to be reckoned with -- according to Barbara Walters, at least.
The 83-year-old journalist spoke to Us Weekly Thursday, Nov. 29, about why she included 7-year-old Alana Thompson on her 2012 list of "Most Fascinating People."
"It's a love story," Walters tells Us of the bond between Alana and her mother, June, on TLC's breakout hit. "It's a very sweet, loving story."
As much of a fan as she is personally, Walters is steeling herself for the inevitable backlash she knows her choice will inspire.
"A lot of people will say, 'For heaven's sake, this is ridiculous, this is a child at 5 or 6 years old entering beauty contests,'" she says. "But the relationship between Alana and her mother -- that's the story, the two of them. It's very touching."
The fart jokes and go-go juice Alana and her family enjoy so much belie serious, old-fashioned family values, Walters argues.
"Honey Boo Boo is not an obnoxious little girl. She's sweet and loving with her mother and loving with her sisters [Jessica, Lauryn and Anna]. And now Anna has a new baby, and the baby has [three] thumbs -- but so what? It'll make you smile," says the ABC standout.
The news icon understands, too, that the mix of people on her list might raise a few eyebrows. Admits Walters, "The fact that we have a show with Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie and Honey Boo Boo . . . that is varied to say the least."
During a chat with her fellow View co-hosts earlier this month, Walters revealed a few other people who made the cut (including Clinton and Olympian Gabby Douglas.) For the full roundup, tune in to Walters' ABC special on December 12 at 9:30 p.m. EST.
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Barbara Walters Anoints Honey Boo Boo As One of the "Most Fascinating People" of 2012